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Northern Ireland Economy and Innovation: Government Support

Part of Endometriosis Workplace Support – in Westminster Hall at 5:02 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 5:02 pm, 29th October 2019

It is an honour to serve with you in the Chair, Dame Cheryl. The wonderful speech of my hon. Friend Emma Little Pengelly really put into perspective the fact that not only does Northern Ireland want to play its part in the economy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but it plays its part in the world. That is very important, because we have a great history. She mentioned standing on the shoulders of giants. Currently, 10% of all global financial exchange networks flow through Belfast, and 10% of all cholesterol tests for the world flow through Randox Laboratories in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland plays a significant part in the world economy.

We are therefore anxious for Northern Ireland to do more, and for the Government to recognise and facilitate that, not cut us off from our mainstream economy. In simple terms, about £18 billion-worth of trade is done every year between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom; and about £6 billion is done with the Republic of Ireland and the EU. I know which side of the fence traders in my constituency and across Northern Ireland want to be on. It is therefore critical that we get that balance right.

We have five very simple requests for the Government. First, reduce corporation tax in Northern Ireland. Stop footling around with other things in Northern Ireland and deal with corporation tax. Reduce it to 10%. Make Northern Ireland the attractive place that it should be for businesses to invest in. Secondly, remove airport passenger duty for our region and allow us to compete properly with Dublin airport, which is stealing customers, who do not turn left when they get off the aeroplanes in the Republic of Ireland but stay in the Republic.

We need those customers to come to Belfast. Thirdly, therefore, incentivise airline carriers to land in Northern Ireland so that we can have more tourism and more businesspeople. Fourthly, remove VAT on tourism and hospitality so that we can compete fairly with our land-border neighbour. Fifthly, build a bridge. Give us that connection between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Let the constituents of my right hon. Friend Sammy Wilson leave Larne and drive to Scotland, and then drive back again on the same day. Allow them to have that great opportunity, which they really need.

In the last few seconds of my speech, I want to thank the Government for their efforts to keep a brilliant manufacturing company, Wrightbus, alive in Northern Ireland. That will create tens of thousands of opportunities for people in the years ahead.